RRPL Summer Reads- The Chosen and The Beautiful

It’s finally June which means that summer is officially right around the corner! We will be counting down the days until the first day of summer, Sunday, June 20th, by sharing the books we are most excited to read in the months ahead. Each week you’ll get a look at titles that Rocky River Public Library staff can’t wait to dive into!

My first summer read pick is The Chosen and The Beautiful by Nghi Vo.

This book, just published yesterday (!) is a Best of Summer Pick for Time Magazine and a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 Pick for Oprah Magazine, so I’m definitely not the only person who has been looking forward to this title to hit bookshelves.

Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents the American classic story of The Great Gatsby through a queer, magical, immigrant lens. Reimagining Fitzgerald’s character Jordan Baker as a young, queer woman who was born in Vietnam and raised in white, American high society, Vo invites readers along for a fresh, imaginative look at this Gatsby woman. Jordan has money, education, invitations to the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age, but is treated like an exotic attraction by her peers.

Vo, a Milwaukee-based author, whose previous works include the novellas Then the Tiger Came Down the Mountain and The Empress of Salt and Fortune, said in a recent interview that her early influences include Neil Gaiman, British fantasy writer Angela Carter, “The Talented Mr. Ripley” author Patricia Highsmith, and the popular podcast series “Welcome to Night Vale.”

As many students have had to throughout the years, I first read The Great Gatsby in my high school freshman English class, and wasn’t particularly impressed. I’ve re-read it since then and am a fan of Fitzgerald’s works now, but am very excited to read a modern, diverse voice such as Vo’s take on this well-known narrative. I also love magical realism and this new novel sounds like an amazing mash-up of some of my favorite literary elements!

What are some titles you are excited to read this summer? We’d love for you to share your titles with us this month in the comments! Happy reading!

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

Here some of the new exciting releases for you to take a look at this week!

The Guncle by Steven Rowley – When Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP) for short, takes on the role of primary guardian for his young niece and nephew, he sets “Guncle Rules,” but soon learn that parenting isn’t solved with treats or jokes as his eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility.

Hidden by Fern Michaels – In the first in a brand-new series from a #1 New York Times best-selling author, brother and sister Cullan and Luna Bodman are drawn into a dangerous mystery through an antique with a complicated past.

Legacy by Nora Roberts – After launching her own line of yoga and workout videos, Adrian Rizzo begins receiving death threats, which lead her back home to Maryland, where she, with the help of her childhood crush, must find the truth when the threats escalate to murder.

Arctic Storm Rising by Dale Brown – Exiled to guard a remote radar post along Alaska’s Arctic Frontier, U.S. Air Force intelligence officer Nicholas Flynn, after an American F-22 collides with a Russian interloper, is ordered to find a missing stealth bomber before the enemy and prevent a potential nuclear holocaust.

The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter – When Delta Dawn, the photographer she hired for her daughter’s 11th birthday, starts slowly integrating herself into their lives, Amelia Staub soon discovers that she will do anything to permanently become of the picture.

My Remarkable Journey by Katherine Johnson – In this extraordinary memoir, the woman at the heart of the smash New York Times best-seller and Oscar-winning film Hidden Figures shares her personal journey from child prodigy in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia to NASA human computer.

Version Zero by David Yoon – From a New York Times best-selling author comes a thriller about how we can save ourselves from the very real perils of a virtual world.

The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan – In a wrenching novel of family, climate change and the resilience of the human spirit, Anna, whose aged mother is dying in a world of perennial fire and growing extinctions, escapes into visions of horror and delight through the ever-widening hospital window.

Honeycomb by Joanne Harris – A illustrated set of dark, captivating fairy tales from the best-selling author of The Gospel of Loki.

Checking in: How Getting Real About Depression Saved My Life and Can Save Yours by Michelle Williams – In her first book, an acclaimed musical artist courageously shares the hidden secrets that nearly ended her life; the importance of her faith, family, and friends; and the lessons she learned about prioritizing her mental health.

~Semanur

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

Check out this selection of new releases for your enjoyment coming this week!

Yearbook: Essays by Seth Rogen – A collection of funny personal essays from one of the writers of Superbad and Pineapple Express and one of the producers of The Disaster Artist.

The Summer of Lost and Found by Mary Alice Monroe – With her family, finances, emotions, relationships and health teetering on the brink, Linnea Rutledge finds her life further complicated by her feelings for John, an old flame who turns up from California and is quarantining next door.

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner – While trying to pinpoint the root of her dissatisfaction with her life, Daisy Shoemaker beings receiving misdirected emails meant for another woman and begins living vicariously through her until she discovers that their connection was not completely accidental.

China by Edward Rutherfurd – The internationally best-selling author of Paris and New York takes on an exhilarating new world.

Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II by Daniel James Brown – Based on extensive interviews with the families of the protagonists as well as deep archival research, the New York Times best-selling author of The Boys in the Boat chronicles the special Japanese-American Army unit that overcame brutal odds in Europe.

The Anatomy of Desire by L. R. Dorn – A clever reimaging of Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy follows the disappearance of popular fitness coach, social media influencer, and possible murderer, as her secret life and what she risked to have it all are exposed.

The Devil May Dance by Jake Tapper – In a fast-paced sequel to The Hellfire Club, Charlie and Margaret Marder, political stars in 1960s Washington, D.C., arrive in Los Angeles on their latest case only to be pursued by sinister forces from Hollywood’s stages to the newly founded Church of Scientology.

The Final Twist by Jeffery Deaver – Taking on a mission his father began years ago—to find a missing courier bag that contains a catastrophic secret—Colter Shaw plays cat and mouse game with a corporate espionage firm and gets some help from an unexpected figure from his past to expose the truth.

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz – Wildly successful author Jacob Finch Bonner, who had stolen the plot of his book from a late student, fights to hide the truth from his fans and publishers, while trying to figure out who wants to destroy him.

While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams – Plunged into an explosive role she never anticipated, Avery Keene, now the legal guardian of power of attorney for the legendary Justice Howard Wynn, must unravel the clues he left behind in regards to a dangerous conspiracy that has infiltrated the highest power corridors of Washington.

A Summer to Remember by Erika Montgomery – When a mysterious package arrives, containing a photograph that changes her life forever, 32-year-old Frankie Simon, the owner of a movie memorabilia shop on Hollywood Boulevard, discovers the meaning of home and the magic of true love.

Billie Eilish by Billie Eilish – A legendary recording artist shares an inside look at her life—both on and off the stage—through hundreds of never-before-seen photos.

~Semanur

New Fiction for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Image contains text: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month - most titles available on Overdrive or Hoopla, and all titles are available in the library catalog. Image also includes book covers for The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo, Black Water Sister by Zen Cho, My Year Abroad by Chang Rae Lee, She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian, Bestiary by K-Ming Chang, Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan, Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee, Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto, and Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, so it’s a perfect time to read some new fiction by Asian American and Pacific Islander authors! We’ve curated a small selection of new and new-ish (published in 2020) books, with everything from romance to science fiction, to literary fiction and young adult fiction.

Click the image above to be taken to our Overdrive ebook catalog, where you can search for each book by title or author. Find the Hoopla ebook catalog here. Individual links to the library’s catalog for each physical book are below.

Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu

Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

My Year Abroad by Chang-Rae Lee

Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

Review of The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley

The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley book cover and RRPL catalog link

An excellent speculative fiction alternate history set during the Napoleonic Wars featuring a time travelling LGBTQ+ love story. In The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley, Joe Tournier wakes up on a train station platform with no memory of who he is. He’s in London, but everyone is speaking French. When he receives a postcard with his name on it, mailed a hundred years ago, Joe journeys to the lighthouse pictured on the card and is kidnapped through a portal into the past by a mysterious man.

Pulley’s novel is at once both a romantic love story across time and space and a well-researched alternate history that examines how the use of future technology would change events in the past, and how far nations would be willing to go for information from the future. This book is for anyone who has ever wondered what would have happened if the French won at Trafalgar, if the telegraph was invented fifty years earlier, or even what would happen if a sailing ship battled against a steam-powered battleship. The twisty, turny plot may be confusing or hard to follow at first, but the payoff in the end is well-earned. Pulley does not pull her punches, either in the story or the action, but her take on naval ship battles is visceral without being over the top with gore. For anyone who loved Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell or Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series.

Look for the Kingdoms on May 25!

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC (advance reader copy)!

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

There are tons of new releases that come to our shelves every week. With all the books being unique in their own ways, it is hard to choose between the ones that are suitable for your taste. Here are some books we picked out for you!

The Last Night in London by Karen White – A journalist in 2019 London interviews a World War II-era model to learn the story of the woman’s best friendship with a Royal Air Force pilot’s wife, who was catapulted by the Blitz into a web of intrigue and secrets.

The Son of Mr. Suleman by Eric Jerome Dickey – Targeted and blackmailed by racist colleagues, a Black professor at a Memphis university is called away from a whirlwind romance by the death of his father and a family that has never acknowledged him.

Lover Unveiled by J. R. Ward – A latest entry in the best-selling Black Dagger Brotherhood series continues the story of Sahvage, a powerful MMA fighter whose buried secret threatens to irrevocably change the world of Caldwell.

A Gambling Man by David Baldacci – Aloysius Archer travels to 1950s California to apprentice with a legendary private eye and former FBI agent but immediately finds himself involved in a scandal in the second novel of the series following One Good Deed.

Legacy of War by Wilbur Smith – A sequel to Courtney’s War finds a plot against Saffron and her husband, Gerhard, triggering consequences throughout post-World War II Europe, before Leon finds himself caught between colonialism and rebellion in an independence-seeking Kenya.

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone – Returning to her gothic childhood home in the wake of her estranged twin’s disappearance, Cat uncovers long-held secrets involving her sister’s left-behind clues and a mysterious treasure hunt.

World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Anthony Bourdain – A guide to some of the world’s most interesting places, as seen and experienced by writer, television host and relentlessly curious traveler Anthony Bourdain.

Blood and Treasure: Daniel Boone and the Fight for America’s First Frontier by Tom Clavin & Bob Drury – A narrative account of the life of historical frontiersman Daniel Boone goes beyond pop-culture depictions to offer insight into his Revolutionary War heroism and nation-shaping achievements as witnessed by 18th-century colonists and Native Americans.

The Perfect Daughter by D. J. Palmer – When the abandoned girl she adopted years earlier is locked in a decaying psychiatric hospital amid murder allegations, Grace embarks on a desperate search for the origins of her daughter’s multiple-personality disorder. By the author of Delirious.

Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner – The Japanese Breakfast indie pop star presents a full-length account of her viral New Yorker essay to share poignant reflections on her experiences of growing up Korean-American, becoming a professional musician and caring for her terminally ill mother.

Girl, 11 by Amy Suiter Clarke – A true-crime podcaster tackles an unsolved serial-killer case from her years as a social worker only to trigger a series of events involving eerily similar murders.

Unfit Heiress, The: The Tragic Life and Scandalous Sterilization of Ann Cooper Hewitt by Audrey Clare Farley – Documents the sobering 1934 court battle between Ann Cooper Hewitt and her socialite mother, citing the eugenics law that permitted the former to be declared unfit for promiscuity and sterilized without her knowledge.

~Semanur

Review of Helene Wecker’s The Hidden Palace – sequel to The Golem and the Jinni

Book cover of The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker

Fans of Helene Wecker’s award-winning historical fantasy novel, The Golem and the Jinni, rejoice – after eight years of waiting, we finally get a sequel!

The Hidden Palace comes out on June 8 and picks up shortly after the end of the first book (don’t worry – there are unobtrusive reminders in the text to get you up to speed with the preceding events). The evil sorcerer who had imprisoned jinni Ahmad in a metal vial (spoilers!) was defeated at much personal cost in the first book. Ahmad and Chava, the golem, now must weather the rapid changes at the turn of the twentieth century in New York City: the sinking of the Titanic, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, and the beginning of the Great War, as well as changes in their relationship to each other and their communities.

Once again, Wecker has crafted an immigrant chronicle for the ages that grapples with the dual problems of the diaspora: attempting to assimilate into a new culture while at the same time keeping close one’s native culture, all while trying to find a place in the world. The Hidden Palace is a sweeping character-driven epic of a family forged in love, not blood ties, whose members fight and love and learn, falling apart and together organically. Even though I only read The Golem and the Jinni once many years ago, this new book felt like coming home, as if I never really left Ahmad and Chava’s world and was now spending time with treasured friends. The tone is melancholy with measured pacing so that readers can truly immerse themselves in the world, and while no one gets a happy ending, exactly, Wecker ends her novel on a hopeful, bittersweet note. The Hidden Palace is a worthy successor to its smash hit predecessor and will wrap you again in a fully realized world you won’t want to leave.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC (advance reader copy)!

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

These are the books we are adding to our collection this week. Click on the orange text to go to our catalog and place a hold today!

Broken (in the best possible way)  by Jenny Lawson – The award-winning humorist and author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened shares candid reflections on such topics as her experimental treatment for depression, her escape from three bears and her business ideas for Shark Tank.

Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi – Honeymooning aboard a historic former tea-smuggling train, newlyweds Otto and Xavier enjoy the locomotive’s fantastical accommodations before encountering a secretive fellow passenger, who imparts a surprising message. By the award-winning author of Gingerbread.

Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian – A satirical coming-of-age story follows the experiences of an Indian-American teen in the Bush-era Atlanta suburbs, who joins his crush’s plot to use an ancient alchemical potion to meet high parental expectations, triggering devastating consequences.

The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon – Investigating an estranged sibling’s suspicious drowning at their grandmother’s estate, a social worker connects the tragedy to the unsolved case of a housewife who in 1929 allegedly succumbed to the consequences of a wish-granting spring.

The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas – A woman who never wanted to be a mother reconnects with her estranged husband in the wake of unexpected news and is challenged to reevaluate herself in an unanticipated role. A first adult novel by the author of Consent.

Good Company by Cynthia Sweeney – A novel about the enduring bonds of marriage and friendship from the author of the New York Times best-seller The Nest.

Animal Instinct by David Rosenfelt – Investigating the murder of a woman he failed to protect years earlier, K Team private investigator Corey Douglas resolves to bring an abusive boyfriend to justice. By the best-selling author of the Andy Carpenter mysteries.

Miss Julia Happily Ever After by Anne Ross – A highly anticipated final installment in the best-selling series finds an outbreak of wedding fever in Abbotsville upended by a mysterious vandal who challenges a lively Miss Julia to save the day, and her friends’ nuptials.

First Person Singular: Stories by Haruki Murakami – Told in the first person by a classic Murakami narrator, a new collection by the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award-winning writer explores the boundaries of the mind through subjects ranging from youth and music to baseball and solitude.

Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson – Blackmailed by a mysterious kidnapper to commit a seemingly harmless act, a once-poor woman who married into wealth triggers a devastating chain of consequences. By the best-selling author of Never Have I Ever.

You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes – Retreating to a cozy island in the Pacific Northwest, Joe Goldberg takes a job at the local library where he becomes obsessed with librarian Mary Kay DiMarco and decides he is ready to make her do the right thing by making room for him in her life.

The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin – Taking a job in a London bookshop just as the Blitz begins, Grace finds comfort in the power of words, storytelling and community as the bookshop becomes one of the only remaining properties to survive the bombings.

~Semanur

Readalikes for The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles catalog link

Thanks entirely to the kids on TikTok, nine years after it was first publised, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is once again a bestseller! If you’re waiting for your copy, or if you’ve read it and would like something similar, I’ve picked some romantic books that have the same feeling as Achilles: sweeping historical events, thoughtful mythological retellings, or a lush fairy tale tone.

Never heard of Song of Achilles? Here’s the scoop:

Patroclus, an awkward young prince, follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate. Set during the Trojan War.

Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN. We’ve also included links to our e-media services Overdrive and Hoopla where available. Find The Song of Achilles on Overdrive here and on Hoopla here (no holds, no waiting!).

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker catalog link

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

After her creator dies en route to America, Chava, a golem from a Polish shtetl, must navigate the streets of 1899 New York City by herself — her only ally is a rabbi unsure whether to destroy her, or allow her to fulfill her destiny as the harbinger of destruction. Ahmad, a jinni from Syria’s deserts has been released from his thousand-year-old glass bottle by a tinsmith but has little intention of remaining a metalworker, despite his uncanny talent for it. Chava and Ahmad meet and discover that they’re soul mates, but a dangerous adversary threatens their future. This vibrant blend of myth, adventure, and romance will enchant fans of stories based on folklore.

The Golem and the Jinni Overdrive link

Uprooted by Naomi Novik catalog link

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

A tale inspired by the “Beauty and the Beast” story follows the experiences of Agnieszka, who becomes the latest girl chosen to serve an immortal wizard who protects their village from the malevolent forces of a nearby forest.

Uprooted Overdrive link



The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson catalog link

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

A concubine in the royal court of Granada at the height of the Spanish Inquisition and her mapmaker friend risk their lives to escape when the latter is accused of sorcery.

The Bird King Overdrive link

The Bird King Hoopla link

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty catalog link

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

Nahri, a young con artist, inadvertently summons a mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, revealing the existence of true magic before the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom falls into her hands.

The City of Brass Overdrive link


The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden catalog link

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift – a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, Pytor hides the gift away and Vasya grows up a wild, willful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.

The Bear and the Nightingale Overdrive link

All plot summaries courtesy of Novelist.